A white former Seattle city employee filed a federal civil rights lawsuit over the city’s racially discriminatory treatment of employees and its mandatory cultural sensitivity programs that he claims constitute racial indoctrination aimed against white people.
Cultural sensitivity training sessions are controversial. They often rely on radical, unproven academic theories, such as Marxist-derived critical race theory, that assume that the United States is inherently racist and that white Americans are by their nature racist. The backlash against such training in both government and corporate settings has been growing in recent years.
Former city employee Joshua Diemert is suing Seattle under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for damages, and in hopes of preventing the city from treating individuals differently because of their race.
Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) hired Joshua Diemert in 2013 as a program intake representative. He received excellent work evaluations and after a year earned a prestigious award recognizing his performance.
Laura D’Agostino, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), the national public interest law firm representing Diemert, said he is suing because Seattle created a “racially hostile work environment and was treating our client differently because of his race.”
For the eight-and-a-half years he was with HSD, Diemert “worked with the most marginalized populations to help them access city services.”
But things changed and as time wore on, Diemert suffered harassment and racial discrimination because he resisted the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), a citywide effort that began in 2004 as city council and mayoral directives to end the city government’s purported “institutional racism,” according to a summary by PLF.
Led by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, the initiative compels city employees to apply a “Racial Equity Toolkit”—drawn from critical race theory—to every conceivable city function. For Diemert’s department, this meant required training sessions that promoted concepts such as “white privilege” and collective guilt that white employees must shoulder for societal inequities. At some sessions, he was required to acknowledge his supposed complicity in racism. He experienced unending pressure to join racial affinity groups that would meet separately to work on matters of “race.”
According to the summary, the trainings’ race-related messages spilled over to the workplace, where Diemert’s managers often repeated the initiative’s principles. The city also disseminated and encouraged racist messaging in emails, lunchroom conversations, and meetings. Diemert often felt pressured into conforming out of fear of retaliation and of incurring the wrath of his supervisors and co-workers. When Diemert spoke out against racist messaging at a mandated workshop, his co-workers smeared him as a white supremacist and berated him about his race.
The RSJI’s discriminatory framework pervaded and distorted every aspect of Diemert’s workplace experience and hurt his health. In 2018, a doctor urged that he be excused from the cultural sensitivity training for several months, but the department refused. Seattle dismissed Diemert’s concerns, blaming his “white privilege” for his suffering. Knowing his skin color would prevent him from being viewed positively, eventually he quit his job.
D’Agostino said all city employees were forced to participate in RSJI training sessions that then factored in employee evaluations.
All the trainings take as a presumption that the entire American system is based on “white supremacy,” which refers not only to skin color but to European or Christian identity, she told The Epoch Times in an interview.
The trainings go even further, saying that things like perfectionism, being on time, focusing on things being in writing, and demanding the certain standards are met, are all “emblematic of white supremacy.”
These trainings are not anti-bias education aimed at making sure everyone is treated equally, but instead the city “automatically puts this badge of evil upon you that you can never get out of, because you are automatically racist, both consciously or unconsciously.”
Seattle’s lawyer refused to comment.
“Our office is aware of this complaint and we are currently reviewing the allegations against the City,” Anthony Derrick, Communications Director for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, said in an email to The Epoch Times.
“As we are unable to comment on ongoing litigation, the City Attorney’s Office has no further statement at this time.”
The case (pdf), filed Nov. 16 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, is Diemert v. City of Seattle, court file 2:22-cv-01640.
This article by Matthew Vadum appeared Nov. 17, 2022, in The Epoch Times.
Photo: Seattle City Hall on Sept. 19, 2016. (Seattle City Hall/CC0 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons)